This was a difficult book to feel comfortable releasing. I’m still not comfortable with it being released. One of those, I was in a really dark place when I wrote it. Most of the time, if I find out someone is reading it, I apologize before finding out how far they’ve gotten in it. It was also one of the first books I wrote. For the most part I wrote it through high school and a bit of college before shelving it. I only officially finished the whole thing in 2019 and edited it in 2020 before committing to publishing it.
As usual, the disclaimer is that I use my books as my therapy. Ways to work through difficult situations. I exerpienced some things in those end years of high school and beginning of college that I had to process and it led to this thing. In a way, I’m proud I got the words out. In a way, I don’t want to subject people to it. In a way, I want to share it so others don’t feel so alone if they’re going through difficult situations too. In the end, it became the third book in The Kavordian Library because it made sense timeline wise. It was finished first though, and that affected all the other books around it.
This is the main book in the omnibus that all the trigger warnings apply to.
Again. In advance. I am sorry.
For the people growing up too fast in a world too cold.
Dislcaimer number 1: I head hop a lot in this book. You could say I take it to a bizarre extreme. I can excuse it by all I want by claiming I was young to writing and didn’t know any better. Thing is, I spent a long time editing it and saw it. I remedied some areas, but others I kept. Its supposed to feel chaotic and disjointed. Unsettled. Uncomfortable. That sensation of a rollercoaster, or when you’re trying to sleep and you jerk awake, thinking you fell off a skyscraper. It’s supposed to feel grey, dismal, like the world has lost it’s light. It’s cold and bitter and scary. It’s raw, and this whole explanation is going to feel cruel.
That was where I was Junior/Senior year of high school, Freshman year of college.
You’ll find I have a hate-hate relationship with mirrors in my books. Like birds represent freedom and being caged, mirrors are the difference between the cruel reality of what I see and what I am. It was only in the beginning of 2021 that I finally felt safe enough and comfortable enough to admit to myself, let alone to some of the world that I’m trans – FTM.
During those years 17-19, I was navigating some major religious brainwashing which deeply affected how I see/saw myself along with a toxic relationship (that I got out of) I had been in for four-five years. High school sweethearts you could say. I got married when I was 17 and he was 19 so I could get in state tuition at the college near the military base he was stationed at. Calculated risks. He came from heavy religion. So did my family.
Letting myself acknowledge who I am beneath my skin has been a long time coming. Some days, it’s still hard for me to not see the mirror laughing at me.
So, opening on Deck and the mirror has a lot to do with that unsettled feeling I get around mirrors regularly. That weird whisper in the back of my head, adults asking “Do you not look in a mirror? Comb your hair, why is it greasy, don’t you shower? Why do you never put on a dress? Go shave your legs, you look like a boy.” Yeah.
The fact Deck comes from a prepper background probably has to do with some of my extended family being Mormon. As a kid, I didn’t get what the difference was between them and me. I just knew my churches did like their churches. Thanksgiving and Christmas and family get togethers weren’t bad though. Tons of cousins to play with. Somehow I always got to see their massive closet of a year of food rations and always thought that was just what people did.
Originally the characters were named Deck, Nat, Benj, Yeller, Sashia, Cherry, Stitch, Marten, Nala, Sven, Cashia, Anastasia, Sibor, Dietrik, Pike, Astoria, Natalia. I tried to clean up the manuscript, but flubbed and Stitch comes up a couple times in place of Hana. Some of the names were juvenile, some sounded too similar to each other.
- Sashia – Sun Hee
- Cherry – Zola
- Stitch – Hana/Haniel
- Marten – Michael
- Nala – Raphael
- Pike – Heinrich
- Astoria – Sylvie
- Natalia – Tereza
Why does Yeller speak Gaelic? Because I was desperately trying to teach myself Gaelic during high school and college and the best way I learned new vocabulary was to write stories, so I figured incorporating it would help. Ehhh…? Not sure if that stuck.
Why is he named Yeller? Because I was in some serious teen angst and thought it sounded edgy and cool. Why is his actual name Ruben? Because I had a crush on a guy back in school. He was this gentle giant that kids teased mercilessly for being awkward and wearing super thick glasses. One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. At the time I wrote Polaris Skies, I really needed a gentle giant. Someone who’s shadow I could hide in.
Nat? In that same vein of hiding in shadows, I named him after something small, insignificant, annoying, a gnat, what I felt like. Originally, I had plans of making him into someone powerful. Someone who changed the world and took control of their destiny and became great. A regular Hero’s Journey story. Life though wasn’t exactly in favor of me finding a Hero’s ending. Polaris Skies slowly shifted with my age from a Hero’s Journey to survival. His edges file down as mine did and it turned from rescuing someone else to rescuing myself, wishing someone else would rescue me.
- An bhufuil tu ceart go leor? – Are you okay?
- Ta me tuirseach – I am tired
- Pog ma thoin ~ Kiss my ass
- Is cuma liom – I don’t care
- ta tu slaghdan ort ~ you’re sick
- ta bron orm – I’m sorry
- Na biodh imni ort faoi – Don’t worry about it.
I always found werewolf representation a touch weird. A complete transformation of skull shape, bones, organs, teeth – true, magic could make that painless in fantasy, but I was more in favor of, if it was a sci-fi base, that transformation would be horrendously painful. Felt more fitting for the type of book I was writing.
That and the infernal question everyone asks in these werewolf set ups. What happens to the clothes? Some writers make them disappear. Some shred them. I went with the option the the shape change is enough that they won’t destroy the clothing, but the transformation does make them drop trou as the saying goes. Meant I wasn’t responsible for finding them clothing every five minutes in the book early on.
Uhhhh…more mirrors. I’ve never purposefully broken a mirror in real life, but that one was satisfying. It might seem far fetched, but living way heck a gone in big sky country, you see some weird stuff on people’s property. A projector in a tree to scare off trespassers is actually not out of the real of possibilities. I mean, motion tracking paintball turrets isn’t either. I’ve seen weirder.
Now, another thing that bugs me in books – when the characters can go running and just…keep…going? Like, how many people do you know train daily for marathons? I know one in real life and probably three online. So, having a whole pack of people go running off and not have at least one needing a breather seemed completely improbably.
- Cad? – What?
- Eistimid agus feicimid – we listen and we see
- Suigh, fan – Sit, stay (Sit down, wait)
Subpar side road medical support. Can we just, I don’t know, address in fiction, how someone can give first aid and bad things don’t happen? Like. Realistically speaking, in a post-apocolyptic world with poor sanitation, bad things are going to happen. Of course I need bad things to happen, how else am I supposed to build up tension and get the story to progress?
You know. Some days, writing certain conversations really should have told me things a lot earlier in life. The interactions between Yeller and Nat specifically. Don’t worry. It only took me several years from the time of writing the beginning of the book to the ending to get the hint.
Hi Hana. Nice to meet you. Sorry, you’re coming with us.
Okay, so this was where I wanted a love interest for my MC. Legit, at the point I was writing this back in high school, I was still deeply burying my feeling and figuring it was the right decision to pick her up and drag her along. Had no clue who she was to the story itself at the moment of introducing her. This was back when I was really winging my writing. Hence, chaos.
In a way, involving Sven into this made it feel more natural to me. I wanted to explore the aspect of more than one soul sharing a body. Not in the same vein as split personalities, but similar I think to the concept of possession. I hadn’t read anything that really worked with that element before and having Sven be fixated on Hana somehow felt better. Again, give me a bit of the book and the several years of poking at chapters to work my way out of the closet.
Some of this set up was because I was living in a massive city at this point and had caught late night busses and walked back to my apartment quite a number of times from campus when it got dark. Things got scary. I’ve had people follow me. I’ve been groped. I’ve been cat called. I’ve had people watch and not speak up. I’ve had some ask if I was okay after the fact.
The Glendwellers speak Croatian.
- Anail – breath
- Crna ptica – black bird (Sven knows and isn’t letting on)
The thing though is, when the world outside is scary, what do you make of it when you return back to what should be home with that same sinking feeling of dread? Partners are supposed to be safe. Your home. You’re supposed to feel like you’ve returned home when you see them. To me, the ex was like walking into a dark alley. Gaslighting. Coercion. Manipulation. Lying. Things I didn’t want to do, have done to me. But I was a good little Christian girl, wasn’t I? It was my place. It was expected. Neither of us thought anything was wrong with how things went. It was what the religious script said we were supposed to do. Years later and I have words for what was going on. I know what it was called. I still am extremely uncomfortable putting it into words. Naming it. I’m glad I got the divorce. I’m glad I found someone who makes me feel like I’m home, like I’m safe.
This chapter was that dread. Where I started eeking out the unsettled feeling that something wasn’t right.
I do have the wolves treat their hosts like children for a long time, because there is an age gap in the whole immortality concept. Why I made it so that Sven spoke to Nat before the other Glendwellers speak to the rest of the pack? Nat accepted the wolf at face value, rather than live in denial of the inhabitation. The others didn’t. So, they communicated earlier. However, if you’ll notice, outside of the Glendwellers, I desperately try to make sure that the women aren’t called girls and the men aren’t called boys other than by Michael. There is significance in this. I want for the infantilizing of people to stop, and the built in use of “girl” such in “girl’s night out” and “boy” as in “boys and their toys” when talking about people who are not children gives me the creeps. Michael is supposed to give you the creeps.
Yes, I named Michael, Haniel, and Raphiel after a set of angels when I changed their names so that they made more sense later in the story.
In a way, Sven is that representation in my brain of the expectations I was provided with growing up. That “you’re supposed to be attracted to the opposite gender only.” I thought, in that time, that if my MC was male, I needed to write a female LI. I fought it, and I fought it hard. At the same time, I liked the idea of writing a female LI in an odd part of my brain. Usually with romance novels, you don’t get the male’s side as an MC, usually because most romance novels are written from the female MC’s point of view. In this though, I was slowly slipping between a decision of Yeller or Hana. Again, something should have told me.
- djecak – boy
Well, hello teenage angst and a hot tub. Could I have re-written this scene when editing? Yes. Should I have? Probably. Why didn’t I? *shrug* no idea, it’s a burned in memory now and I’m keeping it.
- mali gavran – little raven
Sigh. Look. I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to understanding jealousy. I just am not great at writing it. So, my representation of Sven might be a bit overdone. For the most part, at this point I was angry and I shelved it. Things were going down hill in my personal life and I was fighting through school and getting a divorce figured out.
When I came back to the story a year later, I had found someone. I was in a new university, getting a different degree. Things were snapping into place. In the moment I finally opened the file and read what I had down, the dawning realization that everything that had happened to me, I needed to get it off my chest and the words came tumbling out.
Michael became the ex. Yeller took on a lot of my tentative hopes and dreams with Wren. Hana became that female element I still found attractive, but she was no longer purely a love interest to me, but more a representation of me realizing that I liked both men and women and it was okay for me to be like that. Going clubbing with some friends from uni really slapped me in the face with that one. Mass group dancing and a heavy beat and you’ve got this cute little bit of curve in a short skirt under your palms on one side and a towering skyscraper in wire frames with a heavy German accent finding your rib cage on the other. Well. Some things you don’t forget in a lifetime.
In the summer between the divorce and meeting Wren I found a few different people that caught my fancy when I took some classes, but half of them were tossed out the window as an option because my family was still…homophobic…I wouldn’t have been able to bring them home. I didn’t even have the courage to speak to the crushes though. I wasn’t willing to tempt fate when my family were my one safety net in getting away. They’ve sort of gotten better. I came out to them about being pansexual about three years ago now. I still haven’t told them I’m trans. They seem bent on calling me a strong young woman because of surviving brain surgery and everything else that’s gone down in my life, and I’m just not strong enough to deal with my family looking at me with that really blank confused look like I’ve asked them to buy me an elephant or something.
As it is, I’ve been told not to mention being an author to my extended family because they don’t want to deal with the prbable fallout of me being pan and writing what I write. So, great confidence booster there, huh?
Well, that was a deviation from what was actually happening in the book, but I feel better.
- djecak u sjeni – shadow boy (a boy in shadows)
Again…a loving symbolic representation of dealing with religion, feeling like it’s a cult, and coming out of the closet.
Story line progression. This is where that Hero’s Journey story line dive bombs into survival mode. When a savior isn’t quite enough.
- mo gra – my love
This is one of those chapters that I feel I have to apologize for a lot. It got dark. It got creepy.
It was also me dealing with some pent up nightmares. Back when I was with the ex, I was on the pill, but I really didn’t want kids. Legit, I didn’t. Couldn’t fathom the idea of dealing with them. I’d asked for an IUD or a tubal when I turned 18. Well. You remember that bit about coercion? Yeah. I missed my period by two weeks and started freaking out pretty bad that I was pregnant and going to have a kid and end up not getting my degree. Told the ex. He was…indifferent? Like it wasn’t his problem. I ended up spotting the morning I was going to ride the 40 minute bus route it would take for me to get to the store that carried tests. After that little scare he…found a different method…that I wasn’t in favor of, but went along with because he was “done” with his form of protection and I really didn’t want to get pregnant but I was still supposed to be this good little Christian wife and make the husband happy and play house, right?
So. I dealt with that really bizarre sense of relief and horror and nightmares for way too many years, and this sort of turned into me and dealing with that.
*Got the divorce. Found Wren. Got my degree. Had a kid. Got a tubal – which failed. Had 9 miscarriages after because we figured 1 more could be good if I had the ability to before we finally gave up on that.* So, I’ve kinda ran that gammit.
Please, never ask a person when they are going to have kids or if they are thinking of “giving their kid a brother or a sister.” That is one of the cruelest things you can ask someone whose gone through that and who gets super major bad gender dysphoria and sensory overload while pregnant and trans. It’s dealing with knowing you aren’t quite right in the first place and then just rubbing in that you’re freaking broken anyways. Being born wrong and then not even being able to perform the tasks society dictates. It’s cruel. It’s worse than cruel. It’s torture. Just don’t.
So. Hana telling Michael that there’s a difference. That one makes you feel like dying, one you’re just dead. Yeah. You probably get it now.
Nat was left bloody and bruised and the rest of is support needed help and this was the first lock. The first real moving forward. Calling a frog a frog. Calling what I was going through what it was.
I shelved the book again, for another year after writing this. I had written my truth to get it out of my head, and in the process, lost my confidence in ever telling anyone. In a way, I wanted my stories to explain everything about me, in a way, I was scared for people to see inside of me and realize I was twisted and cracked and flawed beyond repair.
- Ifreann na Fola ~ Bloody Hell
- Le de thoil – please
- is docha – probably
- bain triail as go crua – try hard
This chapter originally had a lot more to it involving dialogue between Sven and Hana, but the tone didn’t feel right. So I scrapped it and rearranged the interactions to something more supportive instead of defensive.
Also the way I describe the headache Nat gets? That is what a stroke feels like when you have an undiagnosed AVM rupture in your left parietal/ocipital lobe region. Looks like I used that pain as a way to express the telepathic marks. Forgot about that.
- an bhfuil tu ceart go leor – Are you alright?
- is mian liom go raibh me marbh – I wish I was dead.
Hey look, another instigating situation and getting the pack to move along so this story can get somewhere.
Well. That was emotionally exhausting. I’ll handle chapters 15-29 later.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.